Women’s Eagles Sevens: 2018 Canada Sevens Preview

Head Coach Richie Walker brings added Olympic and World Cup experience to Langford

UPDATE (5/9) - Kris Thomas will miss Canada Sevens due to injury. Sarah Buonopane suits up in her stead. Story here

CHULA VISTA, CA. - With only two stops left in the 2017-18 HSBC World Sevens Series, the Women's Eagles Sevens depart for Langford where they'll face Russia, France and Japan at Canada Sevens beginning this Sat, May 12. Taking the Challenge Trophy at the last Series stop in Kitakyushu, the Eagles will attempt to improve upon their 6th place finish in Langford from the previous year (2017) -- LIVE on The Rugby Channel.

THIS SERIES LAST STOP

A difficult start in Kitakyushu saw the Women's Sevens go 1-2 in pool play before back-to-back wins propelled them to the Challenge Trophy Final where they defeated Ireland to earn 4 points and bring their overall standing to 7th place. 

Following a harsh 0-36 loss to France, the United States faced New Zealand where they displayed improvements in attack but ultimately fell to the Black Ferns Sevens, 12-31. In their final meeting of pool play, the Eagles soared for 45 total points against Japan, earning their first win, but falling short of the Cup Quarterfinals due to a Japanese try on the final play (45-17).

With four points up for grabs, the squad still had everything to play for. Taking their second consecutive battle with Japan for a 34-14 win, the United States ended their run in the tournament  with a victorious performance against Ireland to seal a 24-19 finish. 

WHO TO WATCH

For the first time this season, Head Coach Richie Walker adds Lauren Doyle, Kayla Cannett and Joanne Fa'avesi back into the HSBC Sevens Series circuit.

Doyle, who last represented the United States during the 2016 Dubai Sevens, and Fa'avesi, who last appeared at the 2017 Claremont-Ferrand Sevens, both own a wealth of rugby experience including performances at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. With a similar rugby-resume, Canett also suited up for the 2016-17 HSBC Series but last represented the United States in XVs for the 2017 Women's World Cup in Ireland.

During their own season debuts in Kitakyushu, Kristen Thomas and Kate Zackary each scored two tries, making their returns that much more valuable for the Women's Sevens. Come Saturday, Thomas and Zackary will build upon promising returns from last weekend while Doyle, Fa'avesi and Canett will use their familiarity with the game to help the Women's Sevens in their journey to a top finish. 

HEAR IT FROM THE HEAD COACH

On team mentality with two stops left...
"Langford presents another opportunity for us to master our game plan and improve our position in the World Series. With less time in between stops, we are ready to face the upcoming competition head on and with a mindset engaged in challenging our competition throughout the tournament."

On the competition in pool play...
"France and Russia will not be easy to overcome after top performances in Kitakyushu, while Japan has shown a competitive side we cannot underestimate. All three games will be unique in their own right, forcing us to remain consistent and adapt quickly."

THE COMPETITION

Drawn in Pool B, the Women's Eagles Sevens will face 3rd ranked Russia to open Day One. Having only met once so far this season, with the U.S. owning a 21-12 win in that encounter, the Eagles will need to be prepared for an improved Russian force.

Following Russia, the United States will face France who currently sit in 4th place after winning silver in Kitakyushu and finishing in the Top 5 for total points scored as a team this season.  12th ranked Japan will be last on the docket as the Women's Sevens look to finish pool play with their third consecutive win over the Japanese.

WOMEN'S SEVENS ROSTER | 2018 HSBC Canada Sevens

1. Jordan Gray
2. Cheta Emba
3. Abby Gustaitis
4. Ryan Carlyle
5. Joanne Fa'avesi
6. Nicole Heavirland (C)
7. Kate Zackary
8. Kayla Canett
9. Lauren Doyle
10. Alev Kelter
11. Kris Thomas
12. Naya Tapper

Non-Traveling Reserves

Hope Rogers
Sarah Buonopane
Kasey McCravey

WOMEN'S SEVENS STAFF | 2018 HSBC Canada Sevens

Head Coach - Richie Walker
Athletic Trainer - Kevin Ng
Head of Physical Preparation - Jon Hood
Analyst - Dave Gardner
Team Manager - Liz Strohecker

WOMEN'S SEVENS SCHEDULE | 2018 HSBC Canada Sevens

vs. Russia | Sat, May 12 - 1:30 PM ET
vs. France | Sat, May 12 - 4:46 PM ET
vs. Japan | Sat, May 12 - 7:16 PM ET

WHERE WE STAND

HSBC World Series Standing | 7th
HSBC World Series Points | 28
Most Points Scored by a Team | USA - 5th (305)
Most Tries Scored by a Player | Naya Tapper - 5th (16)
Most Conversions by a Player | Alev Kelter - 3rd (21)
All-Time Points by a Team | USA - 4th (2,983)

TO SUM IT UP

With a shorter break between Series stops and a squad filled with experienced athletes, the Women's Eagles Sevens are prepared to take on Russia, France and Japan in Langford. Sitting in 7th place in the overall standings with two stops to go, Canada Sevens will be an important piece as the series moves closer to its finale in Paris (June). The tournament will run from Sat, May 12 - Sun, May 13 in Langford, B.C. All matches will be broadcast LIVE on The Rugby Channel with updates available by following @USARugby on Twitter.